Almost a month ago in front of our families and closest childhood friends, on a beautiful sunny cloudless day I married the guy for me.
I met Bill in August of 2013 during a beach vacation with my girlfriends. He was vacationing at the same place and we hit it off and began a long distance relationship with 5.5 hours between us. Three months into our relationship we knew we wanted to build a life together and we started making plans to merge our lives. We got engaged in February on the 50th anniversary of my parent’s engagement and I moved to State College, PA at the end of May and joined a practice here. It was an adjustment to leave my practice, community, family and close friends, but it was something I knew was the right choice for me. What I learned during that time is that we all have our own path—we don’t owe anyone else an explanation of why the path we choose works for us. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to honor what we want, what we need and equally important, what we don’t need.
In March of 2013 a very controversial article by Susan Patton, also known as “The Princeton Mom,” urged female Princeton students to focus their time at college finding a good husband rather than dating without intention and focusing on building their careers. The article immediately became a social media sensation causing outrage, anxiety and panic amongst single women who had devoted their 20s and 30s to building their careers and not spending nearly enough time focused on finding a husband.
During that time I received many referrals from 30 and 40-something-year-old women who felt defeated and panicked about being single and childless. In each of these cases what became clear in talking to these women is that they didn’t abandon their dreams of wanting a partner, they just wanted to pursue their own goals and dreams first.
How you choose to live your life and the path you take is your choice. We need to stop judging each other and putting women into the cookie cutter category of finding “the one” and starting a family.
Within five years of graduating from college I attended over a dozen weddings. These were my friends who knew that they had found the right partner and they had the desire to build homes and start families early in life. They were inspired to make that choice because it was the right choice for them at the time.
After I attended graduate school my goal and desire was to start a private practice by the time I was 30. I had had significant relationships with solid boyfriends but I had no desire to commit my life to another person. I can remember being told throughout the years, “You are too intimidating, too focused on your career, too spiritual, too outgoing” in other words, too me. Perhaps if I had abandoned myself and my goals I would have found a partner earlier in life? The truth is I would have been a self-centered, emotionally immature partner in my 20s and early 30s. There were goals and dreams I knew I had to pursue before I could commit to being a good partner to someone else.
Every woman’s path is different and that is the beauty of life! Whatever choice we make we need to stop judging ourselves and each other and insisting there is something wrong with us because we didn’t take the path that most people take, or, we took the path we thought was right and it ended up in a break up or divorce.
The best gift we can give ourselves is to LISTEN deeply to our wants and desires, and then to honor and pursue them. When we take the time to really think about what is right for us and what inspires us we find purpose and peace in our day to day lives. It is nearly impossible to choose the wrong path when you take the time to listen to your instincts and choose the path of peace.
When I got engaged many people asked me how I knew Bill was the one for me. The answer I always gave was simple: I had a deep sense of peace. There was no fear, angst, anxiety or drama, just a calm feeling deep within that this was the next step in my journey.
Any decision we make out of fear is always a bad one. Don’t settle for less because you are scared or think you are too late to get what you want. It is never too late to honor what you want and what you need.
Let’s stop telling everyone around us what they need to do to be happy and give each other the freedom and space to do what is right for us. Don’t spend another minute judging and doubting yourself for past choices. Stay in the present, focus on what you want and what inspires you to grow. Hang out with the people, places and things that give you energy, support, love and peace. Walk away from the things that bring anxiety, guilt, shame or judgment.
When I look back at my path I realize Bill wasn’t too early or too late, he was right on time. Take a deep breath, embrace your path and accept that no one knows what’s right for you better than you!
Wishing you PEACE on your path today and always!
Meghan Lemery Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing at Sunpointe Health in State College, PA.